A new report from a group of Senate Democrats outlines their frustration with the Trump administration’s trade mitigation package and the way it allocates relief to certain producers rather than others.
In a report released Tuesday, the group led by Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, Senate Ag’s ranking minority member and Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York pointed to a high percentage of the highest-paying county rates falling in southern counties. In a separate letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, the group of 17 says there are “significant gaps and flaws that create inequity, fail to account for the actual damage to producers, and even leave some producers shut out.”
“The USDA does nothing to target assistance to those most vulnerable, including beginning farmers and small farms,” they write. “We are concerned that it will lead to further consolidation of family-owned farms and wipe out the next generation of farmers.”
Specifically, the senators pointed to geographic disparities in top MFP payment rates, commodity purchases that included foreign-owned companies, and a lack of a plan “for rebuilding market access.”
In a statement, a Department of Agriculture spokesperson said the payment formulas are “based on trade damage, not based on region or farm size.” To date, the spokesperson notes, “the Midwest region has received more than 60% of the funds” distributed so far. “While criticism is easy to come up with, we welcome constructive feedback from any member of Congress with recommendations as to how the program could be better administered.”
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